This list looks at birth defects – the dread of every expectant parent. Some are fairly well know while others are, thankfully, extremely rare. Warning: some images on this list may disturb.
#10 - Siamese Twins
We are all familiar with the tales of Siamese twins (named for the country of birth of the first known conjoined twins). It is, of course, a rare disorder in which twins are born joined together at one or more parts of their bodies. In the most rare cases, children can be born joined at the top of their head. Sometimes Siamese twins can be separated, allowing both to live full lives, but more frequently, this is not possible.
#9 - Ambras Syndrome
Ambras Syndrome is a disorder that causes someone to be born with excessive hair over the face and body. This is fortunately a very rare disease; in fact, there are only 40 humans in the world with it at present. The disease is extremely debilitating for children, as they are often rejected by their peers.
#8 - Fused Limbs
Fused limbs are two limbs which are joined together. This can happen in some cases with toes or fingers, but in a recent case in Peru, a young girl was born with her legs completely fused, giving her the appearance of a mermaid. One in every 70,000 babies has this disorder.
#7 - Cyclopia
Cyclopia is named for the famous mythical creature the Cyclops. Children born with cyclopia have one eye in the middle of their head. It is believed that the cause may be related to certain cancer treatment drugs taken by pregnant women.
#6 - Craniopagus parasiticus
Craniopagus parasiticus is a condition in which a child is born with a parasitic extra head from their unborn twin. There have only been ten cases of it in documented history, with only three surviving birth. In one bizarre case, the second head was able to smile, blink, cry, and suckle.
#5 - Foetus in Foetu
Foetus in foetu is when a child is born with his twin inside him, giving the appearance of pregnancy. Both twins are usually formed from one egg, but during the pregnancy, one is absorbed by the other and it begins to live off it like a parasite. Surgery can usually remove the undeveloped twin from the stronger one with no ill effects.
#4 - Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva
Children who are born with this disease grow bone in areas that are hurt. Where a child is injured and would normally scar or have their skin grow back, the child suffering from fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva develops bone in sufficiently large quantities that it can become debilitating, with the excess bone fusing joints. The bone cannot be removed in surgery because it would cause more bone to grow in the surgery wounds.
#3 - Progeria
Progeria occurs in one in eight million births. It causes a child to look aged well beyond their years. Children with progeria lose their hair, develop wrinkles, and take on the facial characteristics of the very old. Severe arterial damage caused by the disease means that most sufferers die by the time they hit adolescence.
#2 - Vestigial Tail
Vestigial tail is when a child is born with a semi-functional tail, complete with muscles, nerves, skin, and blood vessels. It is believed to be caused by a mutation of the genes that exist in infants to cause the cellular death of body parts that are not needed.
#1 - Anencephaly
Anencephaly is the absence of a brain and spinal chord. There is no cure and most anencephalic babies die during childbirth. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, “a baby born with anencephaly is usually blind, deaf, unconscious, and unable to feel pain. Although some individuals with anencephaly may be born with a main brain stem, the lack of a functioning cerebrum permanently rules out the possibility of ever gaining consciousness. Reflex actions such as breathing and responses to sound or touch occur.”